Title:
***WITHDRAWN PATENT AS PER THE LATEST USPTO WITHDRAWN LIST***
Testing of a photovoltaic panel
United States Patent 9231126


Abstract:
A method for testing a photovoltaic panel connected to an electronic module. The electronic module includes an input attached to the photovoltaic panel and a power output. The method activates a bypass to the electronic module. The bypass provides a low impedance path between the input and the output of the electronic module. A current is injected into the electronic module thereby compensating for the presence of the electronic module during the testing. The current may be previously determined by measuring a circuit parameter of the electronic module. The circuit parameter may be impedance, inductance, resistance or capacitance.



Inventors:
Adest, Meir (Modiin, IL)
Sella, Guy (Beit-Aharon, IL)
Handelsman, Lior (Givataim, IL)
Galin, Yoav (Raanana, IL)
Fishelov, Amir (Tel-Aviv, IL)
Gazit, Meir (Ashkelon, IL)
Glovinsky, Tzachi (Petah Tikva, IL)
Binder, Yaron (Beit Arie, IL)
Application Number:
13/015219
Publication Date:
01/05/2016
Filing Date:
01/27/2011
Assignee:
Solaredge Technologies Ltd. (Hod Hasharon, IL)
International Classes:
G01R31/26; G06F19/00; H01L31/02; G01R31/40; H02S50/10
View Patent Images:
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5539238Area efficient high voltage Mosfets with vertical resurf drift regionsJuly, 1996Malhi
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5268832DC/AC inverter controller for solar cell, including maximum power point tracking function1993-12-07Kandatsu
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5155670Bootstrap modified topologies for wide-input range switchmode DC to DC converters1992-10-13Brian
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4987360Self-contained rechargeable battery power source with voltage reducer1991-01-22Thompson
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4888063Variable aperture, variable flux density, aerospace solar collector1989-12-19Powell
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4685040Integrated circuit for controlling power converter by frequency modulation and pulse width modulation1987-08-04Steigerwald et al.
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4649334Method of and system for controlling a photovoltaic power system1987-03-10Nakajima
4644458Electric power supply circuit capable of reducing a loss of electric power1987-02-17Harafuji et al.
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4404472Maximum power control for a solar array connected to a load1983-09-13Steigerwald
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4183079DC-AC inverter1980-01-08Wachi
4171861Electrical distribution and/or connection device1979-10-23Hohorst
4161771Inverter ripple regulator1979-07-17Bates
4146785Sun-tracking control system for solar collector1979-03-27Neale
4129788High efficiency DC to DC converter1978-12-12Chavannes
4104687Device for detecting unbalanced conditions in a polyphase equipment bank1978-08-01Zulaski
4101816Switch control system1978-07-18Shepter
4060757Inverters having a transformer-coupled commutating circuit1977-11-29McMurray
3958136Level shifter circuit1976-05-18Schroeder
3696286SYSTEM FOR DETECTING AND UTILIZING THE MAXIMUM AVAILABLE POWER FROM SOLAR CELLS1972-10-03Ule
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WO/2006/078685July, 2006SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR MONITORING PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER GENERATION SYSTEMS
WO/2006/079503August, 2006PROTECTIVE CIRCUIT WITH CURRENT BYPASS FOR SOLAR CELL MODULE
WO/2006/089778August, 2006INVERTER
WO/2006/110613October, 2006INTEGRATED PHOTOVOLTAIC-ELECTROLYSIS CELL
WO/2007/006564January, 2007DEVICE FOR MONITORING PHOTOVOLTAIC PANELS
WO/2007/007360January, 2007SINGLE STAGE INVERTER DEVICE, AND RELATED CONTROLLING METHOD, FOR CONVERTERS OF POWER FROM ENERGY SOURCES, IN PARTICULAR PHOTOVOLTAIC SOURCES
WO/2007/010326January, 2007A PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER OUTPUT-UTILIZING DEVICE
WO/2007/048421May, 2007SWITCH-FUSE WITH CONTROL MANAGEMENT FOR SOLAR CELLS
WO/2007/072517June, 2007A SYSTEM FOR PRODUCING ELECTRIC POWER FROM RENEWABLE SOURCES AND A CONTROL METHOD THEREOF
WO/2007/073951July, 2007LOAD ISOLATION CIRCUIT FOR THE DEENERGIZED CONNECTION AND ISOLATION OF ELECTRICAL CONTACTS
WO/2007/080429July, 2007POWER CONDITIONING UNIT
WO/2007/084196July, 2007DYNAMIC SWITCH POWER CONVERTER
WO/2007/090476August, 2007SWITCHED-MODE POWER SUPPLY COMPRISING ADAPTIVE AND LOSS-FREE SWITCHING OPERATIONS
WO/2007/113358October, 2007CIRCUIT AND METHOD FOR MONITORING THE POINT OF MAXIMUM POWER FOR SOLAR ENERGY SOURCES AND SOLAR GENERATOR INCORPORATING SAID CIRCUIT
WO/2007/124518November, 2007BRIDGING OF A STEPDOWN CONTROLLER IN A CONVERTER OF A SOLAR UNIT
WO/2008/008528January, 2008UNILATERALIZED AMPLIFIER
WO/2008/026207March, 2008MEDIA HANDLING ARCHITECTURE FOR DIGITAL CONTENT
WO/2008/041983April, 2008SYSTEM FOR HYDROGEN SENSING
WO/2008/077473July, 2008SOLAR POWER GENERATION PLANT
WO/2008/097591August, 2008MULTI-SOURCE, MULTI-LOAD SYSTEMS WITH A POWER EXTRACTOR
WO/2008/125915October, 2008MONITORING OF DISTRIBUTED POWER HARVESTING SYSTEMS USING DC POWER SOURCES
WO/2008/132551November, 2008CURRENT BYPASS FOR DISTRIBUTED POWER HARVESTING SYSTEMS USING DC POWER SOURCES
WO/2008/132553November, 2008DISTRIBUTED POWER HARVESTING SYSTEMS USING DC POWER SOURCES
WO/2008/142480November, 2008BATTERY POWER DELIVERY MODULE
WO/2009/006879January, 2009PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEM
WO/2009/007782January, 2009REMOVABLE COMPONENT CARTRIDGE FOR INCREASING RELIABILITY IN POWER HARVESTING SYSTEMS
WO/2009/020917February, 2009SYSTEM, METHOD, AND APPARATUS FOR COUPLING PHOTOVOLTAIC ARRAYS
WO/2009/046533April, 2009AUTONOMOUS HYBRID RENEWABLE ENERGY CONTROLLER
WO/2009/051221April, 2009POURING MEMBER
WO/2009/051222April, 2009ULTRAVIOLET PROTECTION EFFECT EVALUATION METHOD, EVALUATION DEVICE, EVALUATION PROGRAM, AND RECORDING MEDIUM WHERE THE PROGRAM IS RECORDED
WO/2009/051853April, 2009SYSTEMS FOR HIGHLY EFFICIENT SOLAR POWER
WO/2009/056957May, 2009ANTITHEFT AND CONTROL SYSTEM FOR SOLAR PANELS
WO/2009/059028May, 2009APPARATUSES AND METHODS TO REDUCE SAFETY RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS
WO/2009/064683May, 2009METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR CONNECTING SOLAR CELLS OR SLICES IN A PANEL SYSTEM
WO/2009/072075June, 2009PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEM POWER TRACKING METHOD
WO/2009/073867June, 2009PARALLEL CONNECTED INVERTERS
WO/2009/072077June, 2009TESTING OF A PHOTOVOLTAIC PANEL
WO/2009/073995June, 2009LIGHTING DEVICE FOR CHECKING PHOTOVOLTAIC PANELS
WO/2009/114341September, 2009METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR CONFIGURING SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS
WO/2009/118682October, 2009SWITCH MODE CONVERTER INCLUDING AUXILIARY COMMUTATION CIRCUIT FOR ACHIEVING ZERO CURRENT SWITCHING
WO/2009/118683October, 2009SWITCH MODE CONVERTER INCLUDING ACTIVE CLAMP FOR ACHIEVING ZERO VOLTAGE SWITCHING
WO/2009/073868November, 2009SAFETY MECHANISMS, WAKE UP AND SHUTDOWN METHODS IN DISTRIBUTED POWER INSTALLATIONS
WO/2009/136358November, 2009DIRECT CURRENT POWER COMBINER
WO/2009/155392December, 2009DATA QUALITY TRACKING BY DETERMINING METRIC VALUES FOR CHILD NODES AND A PARENT NODE
WO/2010/002960January, 2010PHOTOVOLTAIC DC/DC MICRO-CONVERTER
WO/2010/003941January, 2010NETWORK CONNECTION OF SOLAR CELLS
WO/2010/014116February, 2010STEP-UP CONVERTER SYSTEMS AND METHODS
WO/2010/037393April, 2010POWER GENERATION SYSTEM AND METHOD OF OPERATING A POWER GENERATION SYSTEM
WO/2010/062662June, 2010SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR USING A POWER CONVERTER FOR TRANSMISSION OF DATA OVER THE POWER FEED
WO/2010/065043June, 2010SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR PROTECTION IN POWER INSTALLATIONS
WO/2010/065388June, 2010DEVICE, SYSTEM, AND METHOD FOR MANAGING AN APPLICATION OF POWER FROM PHOTOVOLTAIC ARRAYS
WO/2010/072717July, 2010METHOD FOR DETECTING AN ELECTRIC ARC IN PHOTOVOLTAIC EQUIPMENT
WO/2010/078303July, 2010ELECTRICAL SAFETY SHUTOFF SYSTEM AND DEVICES FOR PHOTOVOLTAIC MODULES
WO/2010/091025August, 2010METROLOGY AND INSPECTION SUITE FOR A SOLAR PRODUCTION LINE
WO/2010/094012August, 2010PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER PLANT OUTPUT
WO/2010/134057November, 2010ELECTRICALLY ISOLATED HEAT DISSIPATING JUNCTION BOX
WO/2011/005339January, 2011SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR DISTRIBUTED POWER FACTOR CORRECTION AND PHASE BALANCING
WO/2011/011711January, 2011METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR DETECTION AND CONTROL OF DC ARC FAULTS
WO/2011/014275February, 2011NOVEL SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR ADDRESSING SOLAR ENERGY PRODUCTION CAPACITY LOSS DUE TO FIELD BUILDUP BETWEEN CELLS AND GLASS AND FRAME ASSEMBLY
WO/2011/017721February, 2011METHOD FOR DETECTING ARCS IN PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS AND SUCH A PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEM
WO/2011/023732March, 2011BYPASS AND PROTECTION CIRCUIT FOR A SOLAR MODULE AND METHOD FOR CONTROLLING A SOLAR MODULE
WO/2011/028456March, 2011SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR ENHANCED EFFICIENCY AUXILIARY POWER SUPPLY MODULE
WO/2011/028457March, 2011SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR AN ENHANCED WATCHDOG IN SOLAR MODULE INSTALLATIONS
WO/2011/059067May, 2011VOLTAGE SETTING DEVICE, PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER GENERATION SYSTEM, AND CONTROL METHOD OF VOLTAGE SETTING DEVICE
WO/2011/074025June, 2011ANTITHEFT SYSTEM FOR PHOTOVOLTAIC PANELS
WO/2011/085259July, 2011SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR AN IDENTIFICATION PROTOCOL BETWEEN A LOCAL CONTROLLER AND A MASTER CONTROLLER
WO/2011/119587September, 2011SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR DETECTING AND CORRECTING A SUBOPTIMAL OPERATION OF ONE OR MORE INVERTERS IN A MULTI-INVERTER SYSTEM
WO/2011/133843October, 2011ENHANCED SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR THEFT PREVENTION IN A SOLAR POWER ARRAY DURING NONOPERATIVE PERIODS
WO/2011/133928October, 2011SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR ENHANCED WATCH DOG IN SOLAR PANEL INSTALLATIONS
WO/2011/151672December, 2011THEFT DETECTION AND PREVENTION IN A POWER GENERATION SYSTEM
WO/2013/015921January, 2013SYSTEMS AND METHODS TO REDUCE THE NUMBER AND COST OF MANAGEMENT UNITS OF DISTRIBUTED POWER GENERATORS
WO/2013/130563September, 2013ANTI-THEFT SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR LARGE SOLAR PANEL SYSTEMS
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Primary Examiner:
Hollington, Jermele M.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Banner & Witcoff, Ltd.
Parent Case Data:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a continuation-in-part application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/314,115 filed on Dec. 4, 2008, now U.S. Pat. No. 8,324,921 the disclosure of which is included herein by reference.

Claims:
The invention claimed is:

1. A method, comprising: measuring a parameter of an electronic module, the electronic module comprising an input attached to an output of a photovoltaic panel, and a power output; creating a low impedance path between the input of the electronic module and the power output of the electronic module by activating a bypass link between the input of the electronic module and the power output of the electronic module; and injecting, simultaneous to the creating, a current into the electronic module, wherein the current is determined based on the measured parameter.

2. The method of claim 1, further comprising: selecting the circuit parameter from the group consisting of: impedance, inductance, resistance, and capacitance.

3. The method of claim 1, further comprising: permanently attaching the electronic module to the photovoltaic panel.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein the activating of the bypass link comprises: externally applying either an electromagnetic field or a magnetic field.

5. The method of claim 1, further comprising: performing, with the electronic module, one of DC to DC conversion, DC to AC conversion or maximum power point tracking.

6. The method of claim 1, further comprising creating the low impedance path with the bypass link with one of a reed switch, a reed relay switch, a solid state switch or a fuse.

7. The method of claim 1, further comprising creating the low impedance path with the bypass link with a solid state switch.

8. A device comprising: an electronic module comprising at least one input attached to an output of a photovoltaic panel, and at least one power output; a bypass operatively attached to the at least one input of the electronic module and the at least one power output of the electronic module, wherein the bypass, when activated, provides a low impedance path between the at least one power output of the electronic module and the at least one input of the electronic module; and a programmable current injector operatively attached to the electronic module and configured to inject a quantity of current into the electronic module, wherein the quantity of current is determined based on a circuit parameter of the electronic module.

9. The device of claim 8, wherein the circuit parameter is determined by measuring a first circuit parameter of the electronic module.

10. The device of claim 9 wherein the first circuit parameter is selected from the group consisting of: impedance, inductance, resistance, and capacitance.

11. The device of claim 8, wherein the bypass includes a bypass component selected from the group consisting of: at least one switch and at least one fuse, the bypass component connecting the at least one power output and the at least one input of the electronic module.

12. The device of claim 11, wherein the at least one switch includes selectably either: a magnetically activated reed switch; an electro-magnetically activated reed relay switch; or a solid state switch.

13. The device of claim 8, wherein the electronic module performs maximum power point tracking.

14. The device of claim 8, wherein the electronic module performs selectably either: DC to DC conversion or DC to AC inversion.

15. A method, comprising: measuring a circuit parameter of an electronic module, wherein the electronic module comprises at least one input attached to a photovoltaic panel, and at least one power output; programming a current injector based on the measuring; triggering a test module, wherein the triggering comprises simultaneously: activating a bypass between the at least one input of the electronic module and the at least one power output of the electronic module, wherein the activating of the bypass creates a low impedance path between the at least one input of the electronic module and the at least one power output of the electronic module; and compensating for a presence of the electronic module by injecting, by the current injector and based on the programming, a current into the electronic module.

16. The method of claim 15, further comprising: selecting the circuit parameter from the group consisting of: impedance, inductance, resistance, and capacitance.

17. The method of claim 15, further comprising: determining the current based on the measuring.

18. The method of claim 16, further comprising operatively attaching the bypass via one of a reed switch, a reed relay switch, a solid state switch or a fuse.

19. The method of claim 15, wherein the activating of the bypass comprises: externally applying either an electromagnetic field or a magnetic field.

20. The method of claim 15, wherein the electronic module performs selectably either: DC to DC conversion or DC to AC inversion.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to production testing of photovoltaic panels, and more specifically to testing of photovoltaic panels which include integrated circuitry.

DESCRIPTION OF RELATED ART

Current voltage (IV) characteristics of a conventional photovoltaic panel are measured using a flash tester. The flash tester measures electrical current characteristics of a photovoltaic panel during a single flash of light of duration typically within one millisecond emitted by the flash lamp. The measurement procedure is based on known properties of a reference photovoltaic panel which has been independently calibrated in an external laboratory. The external laboratory has determined accurately the short circuit current corresponding to standard test conditions (STC) using an AM1.5G spectrum. AM1.5G approximates a standard spectrum of sunlight at the Earth's surface at sea level at high noon in a clear sky as 1000 W/m2. “AM” stands for “air mass” radiation. The ‘G’ stands for “global” and includes both direct and diffuse radiation. The number “1.5” indicates that the length of the path of light through the atmosphere is 1.5 times that of the shorter path when the sun is directly overhead. During flash testing homogeneity of irradiance over the photovoltaic panel is obtained by a 6-meter distance between the flash lamp and the photovoltaic panel.

Reference is now made to FIG. 2 which illustrates a conventional flash testing system 7. The flash testing system 7 includes a photovoltaic panel 10, flash tester 17 and a flash lamp 16, placed inside a closed lightproof cabin 19 which is painted black inside. Alternatively, black curtains minimize the intensity of reflections towards photovoltaic panel 10 from the interior surfaces of the cabin. The homogeneity of irradiance over area of photovoltaic panel 10 is measured by placing an irradiance sensor in various positions of the measurement plane. During the flash testing procedure, a flash tester 17 is connected to the output of photovoltaic panel 10. The measurement procedure starts with a flash test of a reference photovoltaic panel. The short circuit current is measured during an irradiance corresponding to AM1.5G. The reference photovoltaic panel is then exchanged for the test photovoltaic panel. During a subsequent flash, the irradiance sensor triggers a current-voltage (IV) measurement procedure at the same irradiance as during the measurement of the reference photovoltaic panel.

Conventional photovoltaic panels are typically connected together in series to form strings and the strings are optionally connected in parallel. The combined outputs of the connected photovoltaic panels are typically input to an inverter which converts the generated direct current voltage to alternating current of the grid. Recently, photovoltaic panels have been designed or proposed with integrated circuitry.

Reference is now made to FIG. 1 which illustrates schematically a photovoltaic system 14 with a circuit or electronic module 12 integrated with a photovoltaic panel 10. The term “electronic module” as used herein refers to electronic circuitry integrated at the output of the photovoltaic panel. The “electronic module” itself may be of the prior art or not of the prior art. A representative reference (Cascade DC-DC Converter Connection of Photovoltaic Modules, G. R. Walker and P. C. Sernia, Power Electronics Specialists Conference, 2002. (PESC02), Vol. 1 IEEE, Cairns, Australia, pp. 24-29) proposes use of DC-DC converters integrated with the photovoltaic panels. The DC-DC converter integrated with the photovoltaic panel is an example of an “electronic module”. Other examples of “electronic modules” include, but are not limited to, DC-AC inverters and other power conditioning electronics, as well as sensing and monitoring electronics.

Another reference of the present inventors which describes an example of photovoltaic system 14 including photovoltaic panel 10 integrated with electronic module 12 is US20080143188, entitled “Distributed Power Harvesting Systems Using DC Power Sources”.

The “electronic module” herein may have electrical functionality, for instance for improving the electrical conversion efficiency of photovoltaic system 14. Alternatively, “electronic module” as used herein may have another functionality unrelated to electrical performance. For instance in a co-pending patent application entitled, “Theft detection and Prevention in a Power Generation System”, the function of electronic module 12 is to protect photovoltaic system 12 from theft.

Since a standard flash test cannot typically be performed on panel 10 after integration with electronic module 12, for instance because the presence of module 12 affects the results of the standard test, it would be advantageous to have a system and method for flash testing of photovoltaic system

The term “photovoltaic panel” as used herein includes any of: one or more solar cells, cells of multiple semiconductor junctions, solar cells connected in different ways (e.g. serial, parallel, serial/parallel), of thin film and/or bulk material, and/or of different materials.

BRIEF SUMMARY

According to aspects of the present invention there is provided a method for testing a photovoltaic panel connected to an electronic module. The electronic module includes an input attached to the photovoltaic panel and a power output. The method activates a bypass to the electronic module. The bypass provides a low impedance path between the input and the output of the electronic module. A current is injected into the electronic module thereby compensating for the presence of the electronic module during the testing. The current may be previously determined by measuring a circuit parameter of the electronic module. The circuit parameter may be impedance, inductance, resistance or capacitance. The electronic module is preferably permanently attached to the photovoltaic panel. The activation of the bypass may be by externally applying either an electromagnetic field or a magnetic field. The electronic module may be either a DC to DC converter, DC to AC converter or maximum power point tracking converter. The electronic module performs maximum power point tracking to maximize power at either an input or an output of the electronic module. The bypass may include a reed switch, a reed relay switch, a solid state switch or a fuse. The bypass may include a fuse which has a power supply connected direct across the fuse where a current flow from the power supply, de-activates the bypass by blowing the fuse. The bypass may typically include a solid state switch. The bypass may further include a fuse and a parallel connected switch which is disposed between and connected in parallel with the photovoltaic panel and the electronic module. A power supply unit is typically connected across the outputs of the electronic module and closing the switch, provides a low impedance path across the fuse, thereby blowing the fuse. The parallel-connected switch may be a silicon controlled rectifier, reed switch, solid state switch or reed relay. Blowing the fuse typically de-activates the bypass of the electronic module. De-activating the bypass is preferably performed by communicating with the electronic module.

According to aspects of the present invention there is provided a device for testing a photovoltaic panel system including a photovoltaic panel connected to an electronic module. The electronic module includes at least one input attached to the photovoltaic panel and at least one power output. The device includes a bypass operatively attached to the electronic module. The bypass provides a low impedance path between the at least one power output and the at least one input of the electronic module. A current injector may be operatively attached to the electronic module. A circuit parameter analyzer is operatively attached to the electronic module. The circuit parameter analyzer is adapted to measure a circuit parameter of the electronic module. A processor may be operatively attached to the circuit parameter analyzer. The processor is preferably configured to program the programmable current injector based on the circuit parameter. The current may be determined by measuring a circuit parameter of the electronic module. The circuit parameter may be impedance, inductance, resistance or capacitance.

The bypass may further include a bypass component which has at least one switch and at least one fuse. The bypass component typically connects the at least one power output and the at least one input of the electronic module. The at least one switch may be a magnetically activated reed switch, an electro-magnetically activated reed relay switch or a solid state switch. The electronic module typically performs maximum power point tracking. The electronic module may perform either: DC to DC conversion or DC to AC inversion.

According to yet another aspect of the present invention there is provided a method for a device used whilst testing a photovoltaic panel system. The photovoltaic panel system includes a photovoltaic panel connected to an electronic module. The electronic module includes at least one input attached to the photovoltaic panel and at least one power output. The device typically includes a current injector operatively attached to the least one power output and to a test module; a circuit parameter analyzer operatively attached to the electronic module and a processor operatively attached to the circuit parameter analyzer. The method typically attaches a bypass to the electronic module. The bypass preferably provides a low impedance path between the at least one power output and the at least one input of the electronic module. Prior to testing the panel a circuit parameter of the least one power output is measured, followed by the current injector being programmed with a parameter based on the measuring. Injecting current and triggering the test module is typically performed simultaneously, thereby compensating for the presence of the electronic module during the triggering.

The foregoing and/or other aspects will become apparent from the following detailed description when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawing figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention is herein described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 illustrates an electrical power generation system including a photovoltaic panel and electronic module.

FIG. 2 illustrates a flash test module of the prior art.

FIG. 3 illustrates a general equivalent circuit, representing the electronic module shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 with a bypass applied, according to a feature of the present invention.

FIG. 4 shows a flow chart of a method to flash test a photovoltaic panel according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is an activated bypass circuit, according to an embodiment of the present invention, of an electronic module connected to a photovoltaic panel and test module.

FIG. 6 is a de-activated bypass circuit, according to an embodiment of the present invention of an electronic module connected to a photovoltaic panel.

FIG. 7 is an activated bypass circuit, according to another embodiment of the present invention, of an electronic module connected to a photovoltaic panel and test module.

FIG. 8 is a de-activated bypass circuit, according to another embodiment of the present invention of an electronic module connected to a photovoltaic panel.

FIG. 8a is a de-activated bypass circuit using a fuse and power supply, according to another embodiment of the present invention of an electronic module connected to a photovoltaic panel.

FIG. 8b is a de-activated bypass circuit using a fuse, power supply and silicone controlled rectifier (SCR), according to yet another embodiment of the present invention of an electronic module connected to a photovoltaic panel.

FIG. 9 is an activated bypass circuit, according to yet another embodiment of the present invention, of an electronic module connected to a photovoltaic panel and test module.

FIG. 10 is a de-activated bypass circuit, according to yet another embodiment of the present invention of an electronic module connected to a photovoltaic panel.

FIG. 11 illustrates yet another way in which to de-activate bypass once a flash test has been performed according to a feature of the present invention.

FIG. 12a shows a module connected to a compensation unit according to a feature of the present invention.

FIG. 12b shows further details of the compensation unit shown in FIG. 12a, according to a feature of the present invention.

FIG. 12c shows a simulation circuit, according to a feature of the present invention.

FIG. 12d shows simulation results of a test circuit shown in FIG. 12c, according to a feature of the present invention.

FIG. 12e shows another simulation circuit, according to a feature of the present invention.

FIG. 12f shows the simulation results a test circuit shown in FIG. 12e, according to a feature of the present invention.

FIG. 12g shows a simulation circuit, according to a feature of the present invention.

FIG. 12h shows the compensated simulation results of a test circuit, according to a feature of the present invention.

FIG. 12i which shows a method, according to a feature of the present invention.

FIG. 12j which shows a method, according to a feature of the present invention.

The foregoing and/or other aspects will become apparent from the following detailed description when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawing figures.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Reference will now be made in detail to embodiments of the present invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings; wherein like reference numerals refer to the like elements throughout. The embodiments are described below to explain the present invention by referring to the figures.

Reference is now made back to FIG. 1 which illustrates electrical power generation system 14, including photovoltaic panel 10 connected to electronic module 12. In some embodiments of the present invention, electronic module 12 is “permanently attached” to photovoltaic panel 10. In other embodiments of the present invention, electronic module is integrated with photovoltaic panel 10 but is not “permanently attached” to photovoltaic panel 10. The term “permanently attached” as used herein refers to a method or device for attachment such that physical removal or attempt thereof, e.g. of electronic module 12 from photovoltaic panel 10, would result in damage, e.g. to electronic module 12 and/or panel 10. Any mechanism known in the art for “permanently attaching” may be applied in different embodiments of the present invention. When electronic module 12 is permanently attached to the photovoltaic panel 10, the operation of photovoltaic panel 10 ceases or connections thereof are broken on attempting to remove electronic module 12 from photovoltaic panel 10. One such mechanism for permanently attaching uses a thermoset adhesive, e.g. epoxy based resin, and hardener.

Referring to FIG. 3, an example of electronic module 12 is illustrated in more detail. Electronic module 12 connects photovoltaic panel 10 and test module 20. Impedance Z1 is the series equivalent impedance of electronic module 12. Impedance Z2 is the equivalent input impedance of electronic module 12. Impedance Z3 is the equivalent output impedance of electronic module 12. Bypass link 40 when applied between the output of photovoltaic panel 10 and the input of test module 20 eliminates the effects of series equivalent impedance Z1 during a flash test. With bypass link 40 applied, impedances Z2 and Z3 are connected in parallel with resulting shunt impedance ZT given in Eq.1.

ZT=Z2×Z3Z2+Z3Eq.1

Where impedances Z2 and Z3 are both high in value, ZT will have an insignificant effect upon a flash test of photovoltaic panel 10.

Reference is made to FIGS. 4, 5 and 6 which illustrate embodiments of the present invention. FIG. 4 illustrates a flowchart for a method for flash testing a photovoltaic panel 10 by bypassing an electronic module 12 according to embodiments of the present invention. FIGS. 5 and 6 are corresponding system drawings according to embodiments of the present invention of electrical power generation system 14. FIG. 5 illustrates bypass 40 when bypass 40 is activated. With reference to FIG. 5, a single pole single throw (SPST) switch 50 activated by magnetic field of magnet 52 connects the output of photovoltaic panel 10 and the input of test module 20 to bypass electronic module 12 during a flash test of photovoltaic panel 10. SPST switch 50 in an embodiment of the present invention is a reed switch (for example, Part no: HYR 2031-1, Aleph America Corporation NV USA) or a reed relay, or a solid state switch. Bypass 40 of electronic module 12 is activated (step 201) by applying a magnetic field 52 to SPST switch 50 causing SPST switch 50 to close as shown in FIG. 5. The flash test is performed (step 203) using flash test module 20. After the flash test of photovoltaic panel 10, bypass 40 of electronic module 12 is de-activated by the removal of magnetic field 52 to SPST switch 50 (step 205). FIG. 6 illustrates photovoltaic panel 10 connected to the input of electronic module 12, with SPST switch 50 bypass de-activated (step 205).

Reference is made to FIGS. 7 and 8 which illustrate another embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 7 illustrates bypass 40. With reference to FIG. 7, a fuse 50a connects the output of photovoltaic panel 10 and the input of test module 20 to bypass electronic module 12 during a flash test of photovoltaic panel 10. Referring back to FIG. 4, bypass 40 of electronic module 12 is activated (step 201) by virtue of fuse 50a being in an un-blown state as shown in FIG. 7 and SPST switch 5b being open circuit. SPST switch 5b in an embodiment of the present invention is a reed switch (for example, Part no: HYR 2031-1, Aleph America Corporation NV USA) or a reed relay, or a solid state switch. The flash test is performed (step 203) using flash test module 20. After the flash test of photovoltaic panel 10, bypass 40 of electronic module 12 is de-activated (step 205). FIG. 8 shows bypass 40 being de-activated (step 205). FIG. 8 shows photovoltaic panel 10 connected to the input of electronic module 12 and a power supply unit (PSU) 13 applied across the output of electronic module 12. SPST switch 5b is in a closed position because of the application of magnetic field 52.

Reference now made to FIG. 11 which illustrates yet another way in which to de-activate bypass 40 (step 205) once a flash test has been performed (step 203) according to a feature of the present invention. Photovoltaic panel 10 is connected to the input of buck boost converter 12a. The output of buck boost converter 12a is connected to PSU 13. During deactivation of bypass 40 (step 205), a power line communication superimposed on the output of buck boost converter 12a via PSU 13, a wireless signal applied in the vicinity of buck boost converter 12a, or based on some logic circuitry—i.e. a specific supply voltage applied by PSU 13 causes MOSFETS GC and GA to turn on. MOSFETS GC and GA turned on causes a short circuit current ISC to flow from PSU 13 and through fuse 50a. The short circuit ISC current blows fuse 50a making fuse 50a open circuit and bypass 40 is de-activated (step 205).

The closure of SPST switch 5b and application of PSU 13 applied across the output of electronic module 12, causes a short circuit current ISC to flow from PSU 13 through fuse 50a and SPST switch 5b. The short circuit ISC current blows fuse 50a making fuse 50a open circuit and the removal of magnetic field 52 de-activates bypass 40 (step 205).

An alternative way of de-activating bypass 40 (step 205) is shown in FIG. 8a. FIG. 8a shows photovoltaic panel 10 connected to the input of electronic module 12 and a power supply unit (PSU) 13 applied across fuse 50a. The application of PSU 13 across fuse 50a, causes a short circuit current ISC to flow from PSU 13 and through fuse 50a. The short circuit ISC current blows fuse 50a making fuse 50a open circuit and bypass 40 is de-activated (step 205).

Another way of de-activating bypass 40 (step 205) is shown in FIG. 8b. FIG. 8b shows photovoltaic panel 10 connected to the input of electronic module 12 and a power supply unit (PSU) 13 applied across the output of electronic module 12. The anode and cathode of a silicon controlled rectifier (SCR) 15 is connected in parallel across the output of photovoltaic panel 10 and the input of electronic module 12. The gate of an SCR 15 is connected inside electronic module 12 in such a way that the application of PSU 13 across the output of electronic module 12 causes a gate signal to be applied to the gate of SCR. A gate pulse applied to SCR 15 switches SCR 15 on. Alternative ways to get a pulse to the gate of SCR 15 include, power line communication superimposed on the output of electronic module 12 via PSU 13, a wireless signal applied in the vicinity of electronic module 12, or based on some logic circuitry—i.e. a specific supply voltage applied by PSU 13 causes a gate signal to be applied to SCR 15. A gate signal applied to SCR 15 and application of PSU 13 applied across the output of electronic module 12, causes a short circuit current ISC to flow from PSU 13 through fuse 50a and SCR 15. The short circuit ISC current blows fuse 50a making fuse 50a open circuit and bypass 40 is de-activated (step 205).

Reference is now made to FIGS. 4, 9 and 10 which illustrate another embodiment of the present invention of electrical power generation system 14, particularly applicable in cases when the resulting shunt impedance ZT is small enough to disrupt the results of the flash test, such as being less than 1 Mega Ohm in electronic module 12. Referring back to FIG. 4, FIG. 4 illustrates a flowchart for a method for flash testing a photovoltaic panel 10 by bypassing an electronic module 12 according to embodiments of the present invention. FIG. 4 includes step 201 of activating a bypass, step 203 performing the flash and de-activating the bypass, step 205.

FIG. 9 illustrates bypass 40 when bypass 40 is activated. With reference to FIG. 9, a single pole double throw (SPDT) switch 70, SPST switch 72 and SPDT switch 74, activated by magnetic field of magnet 52, connects the output of photovoltaic panel 10 and the input of test module 20 to perform the function of bypassing electronic module 12 during a flash test of photovoltaic panel 10. SPDT switches 70 and 74 in an embodiment of the present invention is a reed switch (for example, Part no: HYR-1555-form-C, Aleph America Corporation Reno, Nev. USA) or a reed relay, or a solid state switch. SPDT switches 70 and 74 when activated by magnetic field 52 provide open circuit impedance in place of shunt impedance ZT when electronic module 12 is being bypassed during a flash test of photovoltaic panel 10. The bypass 40 of electronic module 12 is activated (step 201) by applying a magnetic field 52 to SPST switch 72 and SPDT switches 70 and 74 causing switch positions shown in FIG. 9. Next the flash test is performed (step 203) using flash test module 20. After the flash test of photovoltaic panel 10, the bypass of electronic module 12 is de-activated by the removal of magnetic field 52 to SPST switch 50 and SPDT switches 70 and 74 (step 205). FIG. 10 shows photovoltaic panel 10 connected to electronic module 12 with SPST switch 50 and SPDT switches 70 and 74 de-activated (step 205).

During operation of electrical power generation system 14, DC power is produced by photovoltaic panel 10 and transferred to the input of electronic module 12. Electronic module 12 is typically a buck-boost converter circuit to perform DC to DC conversion or an inverter converting DC to AC or a circuit performing maximum power point tracking (MPPT).

Reference now made to FIG. 12a which shows a module 12a connected to compensation unit 17a according to a feature of the present invention. Photovoltaic panel 10 is connected to the input of buck boost converter 12a. The output of buck boost converter 12a is connected to compensation unit 17a at terminals A and the other terminals B of unit 17a is connected to conventional flash tester 17. Fuse 50a provides a low impedance serial path between panel 10 and conventional flash tester 17/compensation unit 17a. With bypass link 50a applied (i.e. fuse link 50a is not blown), the shunt impedance (ZT) of circuit 12a connected to conventional flash tester 17/compensation unit 17a comes from capacitors C1 and C2 now connected in parallel in circuit 12a via link 50a. If the total value of capacitance (C1+C2) is large (typically around 50 micro-farads), the low shunt impedance ZT may have a significant effect on the result of a flash test performed by tester 17 on panels 10.

Reference now made to FIG. 12b which shows further details of compensation unit 17a according to a feature of the present invention. Compensation unit 17a has a programmable current injector 130, circuit analyzer 128 and processor 126. Programmable current injector 130 has a voltage source E1 which may be connected to an electronic module 12/12a using terminals A. A first positive terminal of voltage source E1 and a first negative terminal of voltage source E1 provides terminals A. The first positive terminal of voltage source E1 is connected to node P. A second positive terminal and a second negative terminal of voltage source E1 is connected across a series connection of capacitor Cp and resistance Rp at node M and ground. One end of capacitor Cp connects to node M and the other end of capacitor Cp connects to one end of resistor Rp at node N. The other end of resistor Rp connects to ground. A first positive terminal of current source G2 connects to node P and a first negative terminal of current source G2 connects to ground. Terminals B are provided from connecting to node P and ground. A second positive terminal of current source G2 connects to node N and a second negative terminal of current source G2 connects to ground.

The input to circuit analyzer 128 is derived from node P. The output of circuit analyzer 128 goes into the input of processor 126. Processor 126 has two outputs (shown by dotted lines) which program/control current source G2 and voltage source E1. Circuit analyzer 128 measures a circuit parameter of electronic module 12/12a. The circuit parameter measured by circuit analyzer 128 is preferably the shunt impedance of electronic module 12/12a. Processor 126 is preferably configured to program/control current injector 130 using the circuit parameter measured by circuit analyzer 128.

Reference now made to FIG. 12c and to FIG. 12d according to a feature of the present invention. FIG. 12c shows a simulation circuit 121a which has a pulse generator 120 with an output voltage and current 124 connected to a test circuit 122a. Simulation circuit 121 is an equivalent circuit representation of a flash testing system. Pulse generator 120 is the equivalent circuit representation of a flash lamp 16 used to irradiate a photovoltaic panel 10 and test circuit 122a being the equivalent circuit representation of a photovoltaic panel 10. Pulse generator 120 has a voltage V1 which is a pulse of typically 33 volts peak, rise and fall time of 0.01 milliseconds and pulse duration of 0.54 milliseconds. The pulse from voltage V1 is applied to test circuit 122a via resistor Rg which is connected in series between voltage V1 and test circuit 122a. Test circuit 122a has a resistance Rpm which is connected in series between the output of pulse generator 120 and ground. FIG. 12d shows the simulation results of test circuit 122a as output voltage and current 124 as a result of pulse V1 being applied to test circuit 122a. Output voltage and current 124 has a peak voltage of 27V and current of 5.4 A which are in phase.

Reference now made to FIG. 12e and to FIG. 12f according to a feature of the present invention. FIG. 12e shows a simulation circuit 121b which has a pulse generator 120 with an output voltage and current 124 connected to a test circuit 122b. Simulation circuit 121b has the same elements as shown in FIG. 12b but with the addition of a capacitor Cm connected in parallel with resistor Rpm in test circuit 122b. Capacitor Cm in test circuit 122b represents the total shunt capacitance for example of module 12a connected to panel 10. FIG. 12f shows the simulation results of test circuit 122a as output voltage and current 124 of test circuit 122b as a result of pulse V1 (33 volts peak, rise and fall time of 0.01 milliseconds and pulse duration of 0.54 milliseconds) being applied to test circuit 122b. Output voltage and current 124 are now not in phase with voltage (27V) lagging and current peaks which reach 40A.

Reference now made to FIG. 12g, FIG. 12h and FIG. 12i according to a feature of the present invention. FIG. 12g shows a simulation circuit 121c which has a pulse generator 120 with an output voltage and current 124 connected to a test circuit 122b. Simulation circuit 121c has the same elements as shown in FIG. 12e but with the addition of compensation unit 17a connected in parallel with capacitor Cm in test circuit 122b. Capacitance Cm represents the total shunt capacitance for example of module 12a connected to panel 10 with bypass 50a activated as an un-blown fuse link (step 1201). In compensation unit 17a, circuit analyzer 128 measures a circuit parameter of test module 122b. The circuit parameter measured by circuit analyzer 128 is preferably the shunt impedance of test module 122b or the shunt capacitance of test module 122b. Processor 126 is preferably configured to program/control current injector 130 using the circuit parameter measured by circuit analyzer 128. Compensation unit 17a can inject a current into test module 122b in order to compensate for the shunt capacitance of test module 122b (step 1203) when performing a flash test. FIG. 12h shows the compensated output voltage and current 124 of test circuit 122b as a result of pulse V1 (33 volts peak, rise and fall time of 0.01 milliseconds and pulse duration of 0.54 milliseconds) being applied to test circuit 122b. Output voltage and current 124 are now in phase and output voltage and current 124 represents the current/voltage characteristics of resistance Rpm in test circuit 122b.

Reference is now made again to FIGS. 12a, 12b and to FIG. 12j which shows a method 1220, according to an embodiment of the present invention. With link 50a activated as an un-blown fuse link (step 1201) a low impedance path exists between the input and the output of module 12a. Prior to a flash test of panel 10 using tester 17, located in compensation unit 17a, is circuit analyzer 128 which measures (step 1223) a circuit parameter of the output of electronic module 12a with the input of module 12a connected to panel 10. The circuit parameter measured by circuit analyzer 128 with fuse link 50a connected according to step 1221 may be the impedance of capacitors C1 and C2 in parallel with panel 10 and with flash tester 17 disconnected. Alternatively, the value of shunt impedance for module 12a may be measured (to provide a noted value) prior to attachment to panel 10. Processor 126 is preferably configured to program (step 1225) and/or control current injector 130 using the circuit parameter measured by circuit analyzer 128 or from the noted value. With flash tester 17 operatively attached to compensation unit 17a, module 12a and panel 10, a flash test is performed where the current injection by compensation unit 17a simultaneously triggers (step 1227) a flash test of a panel using tester 17.

The definite articles “a”, “an” is used herein, such as “a converter”, “a switch” have the meaning of “one or more” that is “one or more converters” or “one or more switches”.

Although selected embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described, it is to be understood the present invention is not limited to the described embodiments. Instead, it is to be appreciated that changes may be made to these embodiments without departing from the principles and spirit of the invention, the scope of which is defined by the claims and the equivalents thereof.